Straatwerk wipes out graffiti in Obs

Observatory’s streets are looking much cleaner now that many of the unsightly graffiti artworks and tags, have been removed from the streets. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Straatwerk and their “Projekt OPHELP (Project Operation Help)”, funded by the Observatory Improvement District (OBSID), the street environment is quietly undergoing a positive transformation.

For the project, the OBSID funded a team of people from Projek OPHELP during May and June 2019, working under the supervision of their Operations Manager. The teams were trained by Straatwerk’s work based diversion programme in the art of graffiti removal, thereby spreading skills, increasing employability of those with the skills and giving people a chance to make their environment better – even if they live on the streets.


The OBSID supplied materials for them to remove graffiti in the following locations:

  • Two subways on the station concourse plus surrounding walls and infrastructure
  • The Station Road bridge
  • Herman Road
  • The length of Lower Main from Dane Street to Rochester Road  (walls, poles, electrical and Telkom boxes, doors, pavements – all surfaces)
  • The walls of the public toilet at Arnold and Station Road
  • A house abutting the pavement at the corners of Wesley, Milton and Merrick Streets
  • Lower Main near entrance of Fountain House, which is also near Bishop Road.

The OBSID CEO, Amanda Kirk, says that the collaboration with Straatwerk and Projekt OPHELP, has been a great example of how community projects can achieve great results while helping others:” Straatwerk’s concept of giving hours and days of work to those in need and giving them skills, through Projekt OPHELP, works because it understands how to help people whilst providing a useful service to the broader community.”

“Obs is looking fabulous now that a lot of the tags and artwork have been removed – we are so grateful to Projek OPHELP for their work,” said Amanda.

According to Amanda, the project still has much more to do: “We’re still planning on tackling the Wrensch Road subway, which is currently inaccessible for work due to flooding and the Strubens Road subway. We’ll also be rolling out the project into all the side streets of Observatory. If you see tagging, please report it to us so we can attend to it”.

The graffiti clean-up, particularly in the subways, supported a community driven “Paint the Subway” project at the Trill Road Subway, driven by Tanya Bonello and Edwin Angless. The project proved to be such a success that a second one is now being planned.

“The OBSID will fund the materials for the next subway activation (in the Station Road subway) as part of our arts, sports, heritage and culture portfolio. We’ll be working with Tanya Bonello and her team of magic makers again.

“We’re also calling on the community to submit ideas for designs, please contact the OBSID offices if you want to get involved,” said Amanda.

About Straatwerk

Straatwerk came into being in the late 1960s. Young people gathered on Friday evenings with a shared concern for those who were cast out by society, who were broken and in distress, and yearned to be loved.

Today Straatwerk is a registered, faith based, non-profit organisation with a strong evangelistic focus. They work with the homeless and destitute in Cape Town, training participants in a work based diversion programme to do graffiti removal, thereby spreading skills, increasing employability of those with the skills and giving people a chance to make their space better (even if they live on the streets).

Straatwerk believes they are called to be of service to those in need and ease their distress; and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. For more information visit:

About Projekt OPHELP

Projekt OPHELP is an open opportunity to participate and discover what it takes to co-operate in a team. Straatwerk believes that we are called to assist people on the road to habilitation, whatever their situation or addiction may be.

Projekt OPHELP, is intended to graduate participants into job-readiness and/or training-readiness (nothing more). It is on the second level, Project DIGINTY, that Projek OPHELP graduates are trained on the job in particular low level skills like Graffiti Removal. On this level they undertake typical ‘urban management’ services as needed by Improvement Districts.

Projekt OPHELP is a habilitation programme for, as yet, un-employable or otherwise desperate persons with a focus on helping them out of a life on the street. It is intended to provide a great experience of an industrious life.

Projekt OPHELP does not offer employment to anyone. Willing persons participate on a voluntary basis in habilitative 5-hour practicing sessions of teamwork in honest work with a cash reward for successful completion. At the same time, participants benefit from the additional habilitative and evaluating processes of the Project, operating as a “school of life”.

Important life skills are learnt and put into practice. While areas are cleared of rubbish and other undesirable objects, undesirable issues and circumstances are also purged from the streets, from people’s lives and from the community.

For more information about the OBSID, please contact: Amanda Kirk, Chief Executive Officer, Observatory Improvement District (OBSID), 021 448 7090,

24 hour control room – incident reporting: (021) 447 1066